Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Posted September 25, 2014 by Sara | Novel Novice 1 Comment


The Sugar Plum Fairy is not coming to the rescue in this darkly reimagined version of a holiday classic. Claire Legrand’s Winterspell is a luscious and seductive twist on The Nutcracker, which will enchant readers from the very beginning.

winterspellNew York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Winterspell is a mesmerizing read, with a richly imagined world, enchanting characters, and unexpected twists at every turn. The Nutcracker is a brilliant source of inspiration, and the story’s influence is sprinkled throughout the book — and yet Winterspell does not rely on this source material. Legrand has crafted her own plot, her own mythology, and her own dark turns for the story and her characters.

Most of my memories of The Nutcracker come from the Tchaikovsky ballet — and I remember a growing Christmas tree, a dancing teddy bear, and Clara being whisked off to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, where delicious treats dance for her delight. But Legrand has tapped into the story’s darkest elements for Winterspell: the kindly but mysterious (and sometimes sinister) Heir Drosselmeyer; the battle between the rats and the Nutcracker; a young girl’s disappearance from her home on Christmas Eve.

Winterspell is an intoxicating blend of fairy tale romance and darkness; there is beauty and evil interwoven throughout the book, from start to finish. The result is a mesmerizing story, and the inability to ever think of The Nutcracker in the same way again.

Winterspell is in stores September 30th.

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Sara | Novel Novice
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